Sword of Fire (Deverry) by Katherine Kerr is the first book in a new trilogy set in Kerr’s world of Deverry. In a realm reminiscent of medieval Scotland, women are traditionally uneducated and relegated to domestic positions in society. Because of a special patronage, a women’s collegium was established to educate select women to pursue the training and mastering of the bardic skills. These bards are the “Voice of the People” to the nobility and royalty and hold a special place in society. Alyssa and Lady Dovina are guildswomen and close friends at the school even with their socially different backgrounds, Alyssa’s family are bakers and Lady Dovina is the only daughter of the ruling Gwerbret. When the Gwerbret allows the senior bard to starve at his gates instead of hearing his grievance over judicial unfairness an underlying simmer among the people comes to a boil. Alyssa and Dovina resolve that their bard’s death will not be in vain, even if they must go against convention to spearhead a quest for ancient texts that will support their cause. While Alyssa sets off with an honor-less “silver sword” as protection and Dovina is forced back to the family castle to fulfill a betrothal, they are each determined to navigate those intent on stopping them at any price. In different ways they each face trials that put their lives at risk while weighing choices to give their trust and heart to another.
Katherine’s Sword of Fire is an epic tale written in the classic style of George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis, a few of my all-time favorite authors for family friendly stories of intrigue and adventure. Her characters are authentic and their development individually and relationally with other characters is a solid part of what makes Sword of Fire such a great read! I loved this story so much that I already have my 16 year old daughter hooked on it. I have never read Kerr’s world of Deverry, which has 15 stories, but after experiencing this masterfully written tale I’m motivated to delve into these other books.